A Will is an essential document that helps ensure your family and loved ones are protected when you die. By creating a comprehensive and detailed Will based on your individual circumstances, you are able to leave your possessions and finances to the people you want, giving you peace of mind.
Should you die without having created a Will, your estate will be divided according to the rules of intestacy. Under the rules of intestacy, the government decides how your assets are distributed, which is unlikely to be how you want.
Depending on your particular situation, your Will may be straightforward to create or more complicated. No two are the same, so it is never possible to directly replicate a Will. With these factors in mind, taking the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable private client solicitor is essential to ensure that your Will is tailored to you and covers all aspects of your life.
In addition, if incorrectly executed or key details are neglected, your family and loved ones could face costly and emotionally overwhelming legal challenges after you are gone.
In this article, Bowsers’ specialist private client solicitors consider what you need to do to create a valid Will and ultimately protect your estate from future disputes.
Why is it important to have a Will?
Not only does having a valid Will give you the peace of mind that your family will be protected when you have gone, but you can be safe knowing that the chances of your executor facing difficulties when distributing your estate are limited. Below, we outline some of the key benefits of having a Will:
- Taking control of your estate planning lets you determine the desired outcome after you pass away and how your assets should be distributed. By avoiding intestacy, where assets may be inherited by unintended beneficiaries or intended beneficiaries receive nothing, you ensure that the relevant steps are taken based on your preferences.
- Having a Will clarifies your wishes and provides peace of mind. By appointing a chosen executor to carry out your instructions, you ensure that your intentions are clearly communicated and understood by beneficiaries.
- Having a Will becomes even more crucial for those in blended families with children from previous relationships. Without one, your children may not receive any inheritance. Creating a Will also offers protection and security for your unmarried partner. In the absence of a Will, unmarried partners cannot inherit from each other.
- Having a well-prepared Will can help minimise the amount of inheritance tax you are liable to pay, ensuring that more of your assets can benefit your chosen beneficiaries.
How can I ensure my Will is legally binding?
For a Will to be legally binding, it must be:
- Made by a person aged 18 or over.
- Made voluntarily.
- Made by a person of sound mind.
- Written down.
- Be signed in the presence of two witnesses over 18. Neither witness nor their married partners can be beneficiaries mentioned in the Will.
It is essential to regularly update your Will to reflect any changes in your circumstances, such as having children or going through a divorce. It is important to note that getting married or entering into a civil partnership automatically revokes a Will that has been made previously, leaving it invalid. Each time you update your Will, you must adhere to the same signing and witnessing process to ensure its validity.
Common Will Writing Mistakes
Without an accurately executed Will, it is open to contention upon death based on the grounds of validity or execution. Common mistakes when writing a Will include:
- Not fulfilling the relevant legal requirements.
- Not considering all of the relevant finances and property.
- Not planning for the possibility of a beneficiary dying before you (the person making the Will).
- Not following the correct processes when changing or amending the Will.
- Not considering the implications made by a change in circumstances, such as marriage, divorce or civil partnership dissolution.
- Not considering your dependents and the associated rules. This could mean that the Will is overturned.
Do I need a solicitor to write my Will?
Although initially more expensive than utilising an online Will writing service, instructing a specialist private client solicitor to support you in writing your Will could prove essential in preventing expensive disputes amongst your friends, family and loved ones when you die.
At Bowsers Solicitors, we understand that you want to do all you can to protect your family. Therefore, we take the time to get to know you and your circumstances, advising accordingly and helping ensure your wishes are met.
We advise speaking to a solicitor when writing a Will in all circumstances; however, it is essential if:
- You share a property with someone not your husband, wife or civil partner.
- You wish to make provision for a dependant who cannot care for themselves.
- There are family members who may make a claim on the Will, for example, a second wife or children from a first marriage.
- Your permanent home is not in the UK.
- You are resident in the UK and own property overseas.
- There is a business involved.
Wills Solicitor March and Wisbech
At Bowsers, our specialist solicitors are well-versed in supporting clients with various private client matters, including:
- Court of Protection and Deputyship
- Estate Planning
- Lasting Powers of Attorney
- Living Wills
- Statutory Wills
- Will Writing
To speak to a member of our team to get started with your Will or amend an existing one, please call 01945 583194 (Wisbech) or 01354 652606 (March), email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in this contact form.